Everything we’ve changed our minds about in the Premier League this season
The 2020/21 Premier League campaign comes with a wonderfully fun feeling of unpredictability, a trait that has been largely absent from the top flight in recent years.
While the previous three seasons have seen Manchester City and Liverpool turn into flawless campaigns, the term has a greater sense of chaos, with a real ‘anyone can beat anyone’ mentality (aside from Sheffield United – but even this opinion could be dismissed within fifteen days).
As a result, even the most basic hot plugs seem to go stale within weeks. Let’s take a look at everything we’ve changed our minds about in the top flight this season – and we’ll likely change our mind at some point.
West Ham started the season with a 2-0 home loss to Newcastle – the team currently considered one of the darkest to support in the top flight – and looked unlike a team capable of scoring. He had the makings of the start of a tough season for the Hammers.
But David Moyes got Covid and was forced to self-isolate, and suddenly West Ham couldn’t stop scoring.
As the saying goes, Alan Irvine is temporary but the class is permanent. With Moyes back in the dugout his side have lost just two of their last 11 Premier League games, they have a very exciting front foursome and now have European football in sight.
Between the failure to win at Old Trafford in the Premier League until November, the 6-1 loss to Tottenham and the fall of the Champions League in the group stage, the first months of the season have once again been enough tough for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – with his future coming into question seemingly every two weeks.
But since their exit from the Champions League, Manchester United have not lost in the elite. They have made 13 Premier League appearances unbeaten – a streak dating back to November 1, and are now just one point behind league leaders Manchester City.
A season that started with three losses in their first six league games has turned into a challenge for the title – with Solskjaer still very much behind the wheel.
Man City have had an unconvincing start to the season, winning just three of their opening eight league games. November’s 2-0 loss to Tottenham and draws to Manchester United and West Brom as recently as December 15 seemed to highlight toothlessness and a lack of peak.
Richard Keys even suggested bringing in Sam Allardyce to help with their defensive issues. And when Keys speaks, you take note of it.
But go ahead a little over a month and Pep Guardiola’s team are at the top of the list. They’ve won 11 on the rebound, retained four straight Premier League clean sheets and even beat Big Sam’s West Brom 5-0. Maybe Richard Keys isn’t quite the shrewd tactical genius we thought he was?
With the signing of Edouard Mendy, Chelsea seem to have found the solution to all their problems. They won eight out of nine in all competitions between late October and early December, with Mendy conceding just three goals in his opening 12 matches.
Their 3-1 win over Leeds on December 5 left the Blues just two points behind Tottenham atop the Premier League. But things quickly unfolded for Super Frank and he was dismissed after a two-eight league winning streak.
Chelsea are now tenth, 12 points from first place and Lampard is waiting for the call from Monday night football.
A 7-2 loss to Aston Villa and all injured Anfield center-backs cast major doubts on Liverpool’s ability to defend their Premier League title.
However, the Reds recorded an impressive victory over title rivals Tottenham and a 7-0 strike from Crystal Palace in the span of four days in December to give them a four point lead at the top of the league. Still, it looked like it was going to be business as usual after all.
But since their Palace demolition, the Reds have failed to win in the Premier League, have only found the nets once, have seen their undefeated home record end with Burnley and have fallen seven points behind league leaders, Manchester City.
We couldn’t get enough of Leeds at the start of the season, with the energetic side of Marcelo Bielsa summing up the chaotic fun of the 2020/21 Premier League season. Score three at Anfield? Yes please. Relentlessly engage players in front instead of protecting a lead? Let it come.
Even when they lost, Leeds were praised for their adventure, their cunning and the spirit with which they played the game. The club apparently couldn’t hurt.
In fact, all they had to do was needlessly subject an expert to a tirade of social media abuse.
There’s a reason Richard Keys was hitting Sam Allardyce’s drum. West Brom had only played 180 minutes of competitive football under the former England boss and had previously held Premier League champions Liverpool – a side that had stuck seven years past Palace in their last outing – to a 1-1 draw.
The Baggies were resilient, compact and organized, limiting Liverpool to just two shots on target. The Big Sam revolution had begun.
Since their draw at Anfield, West Brom has won one, lost four, crashed in the FA Cup to League One Blackpool and conceded 20. Maybe Richard Keys isn’t quite the shrewd tactical genius we thought he was?